03 May, 2014

The lone candle

Last week, I posted a poem I wrote a few months after my good friend's violent death.

One of my oft-cited (at least, lately) favorite books is The Fault in Our Stars. In it, one of the protagonists struggles with what he perceives as the lack of meaning in dying "of" something - he wants an epic death fighting "for" something. I struggled a lot with my need to see my friend's death in those terms - I wanted to see her murderer as someone truly evil, in a black-and-white, epic battle for the fate of the universe kind of way. I wanted him, in some deep, metaphysical way to embody the devil or Satan.

And he didn't. He was just a guy. A stupid guy who got angry, who had never been taught to control his temper, who didn't think about consequences, who let his bruised ego get in the way of seeing other people as people. Like my friend.

As I mentioned when I posted the poem, I'm not a good poet. I'm happy to discuss the imagery in the poem in detail with anyone who feels the need to know exactly what I was thinking. I'm also happy to leave it to readers' imaginations.

But there is one image that I think is worth explaining, and that's the lone candle. The lone candle refers to a visualization that our unit's chaplain gave me when he prayed with me the day after Melissa had died.

When I described my need for something epic, someone to hate, someone standing in opposition to an omniscient, omnipotent God, my chaplain instead spoke of a different image of God. A simpler but somehow more powerful one - God as a lone candle flickering in the dark.

Just before the one-year anniversary of my friend's death, and a couple of weeks before my father passed away, I came across this brilliant installation by Kanokphan Nok Hoontrakool:

A Flicker in the Dark
MFA Thesis Exhibition by Kanokphan Nok Hoontrakool
Originally posted at: http://vimeo.com/25541450